Anti-Aging Skincare Trends to Note in 2021
To offset the stress of 2020…
Many of us have felt the effects of the stress of 2020 on our faces. If you have felt that you looked a bit wearier in the mirror, you are definitely not alone. Beauty fans look to their anti-aging skincare regimens to prevent and lessen the signs of skin aging, but they can also be viewed as valid self-care when practiced with the mindset of relaxation and self-nourishment.
To rē•spin the idea of anti-aging in a pro-wellness direction, think of your morning and nightly routines as opportunities to support your body’s largest organ into a state of optimal health. In addition to your regimen of products, remember that holistic models of skin health place importance upon decisions regarding diet, sleep, exercise, and stress in the maintenance of your skin over the long-term.
To elevate your anti-aging skincare regimens in 2021, here are some of the anti-aging skincare trends to consider, according to dermatologists.
1. Microbiome-Friendly Skincare:
Research confirms the teaching that inflammation fuels skin aging, emphasizing a gentler approach to working with aging skin. At first, seen with skin barrier-friendly skincare, it is now being taken a step further with products that work on an even smaller scale — the microbiome — in 2021. Board-certified NYC dermatologist Hadley King points out that healthy skin microbiota help to prevent inflammation. Thus, products that optimize the mix of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that make up the skin microbiota help fortify the skin’s defensive acid mantle, barrier, and prevent inflammatory reactions to things like pollution, irritants, microbes, and free radicals.
“[Evidence shows] there is an important connection between the health of your skin and its microbiome,” board-certified dermatologist Marie Hayag, founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics in New York City, NY, tells re-spin. “Several factors like environmental pollutants, sun damage, and irritating products can disrupt your skin’s microbiome. Skincare that helps mitigate these factors while also nourishing the microbiome will be significant, especially as more research emerges.” Tending to the skin barrier and its microbiome are particularly important when using anti-aging active ingredients with the ability to be harsh.
2. Blue Light Protection:
Skincare products, and particularly sunscreens, that offer blue light protection from high-energy visible light (HEV), are becoming more prominent in 2021. “Blue light from the screens we [face] all day long may be causing premature aging of the skin. More research needs to be done for definitive answers, but current research points to it being detrimental for the overall health of your skin,” Hayag says, pointing out that working from home is exposing us to even more blue light from electronic devices than usual.
King reveals that mineral sunscreens featuring non-micronized particles will provide the best protection from blue light, identifying tinted iron oxide (at approximately 3.5%), zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide as the physical UV- and HEV-blockers to seek. She adds Licochalcone A — a derivative of licorice root — can offer enhanced photo-protection.
3. Clean Beauty Swaps:
The continued rise of clean beauty-specific sections at mainstream stores, as well as niche-specific retailers like Credo, Follain, and The Detox Market in 2021, are compatible with holistic approaches to skin aging that minimize toxic load and inflammation. “I foresee the rise of more purposeful, simplified skincare in regards to sustainability, efficacy, and an overarching mindful holistic approach to healthy skin. What will resonate with the reset priorities of these consumers will be beauty with a conscience,” says Dallas, Texas-based, board-certified dermatologist Flora Kim. For this reason, many are swapping their anti-aging retinol for formulas that use the clean retinol-alternative, bakuchiol. Similarly, the popularity of fresh, small-batch beauty oils without potentially sensitizing additives continues to rise among clean- and green-leaning consumers.
4. At-Home Treatments (i.e., Chemical Peels, Dermarolling):
“At-home options like chemical peels and dermarolling will continue in their popularity because the pandemic is definitely not over yet,” King explains. Celebrity esthetician Olga Lorencin, who works with our founder, Halle Berry, now offers an at-home version of her celebrity-beloved Red Carpet Facial — which includes a professional-grade chemical peel (the same she offers in-salon) to soften fine lines, clear congestion, and brighten tone. “Exfoliating your skin weekly with acids is one of the best and fastest ways to achieve collagen regeneration, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, “ Lorencin explains.
5. Regenerative Skincare:
Expect to see active ingredients that empower the skin’s natural regenerative functions. Growth factors like epidermal growth factor (EGF), AKA proteins that promote the increase of the skin’s structural components like collagen and elastin, are one example.“Growth factors are signaling proteins,” King explains. “When they bind to receptors on the skin surfaces, they can send commands to repair, rejuvenate, and replicate.” EGF is a great retinol-alternative if you have sensitive skin, but can also be used with retinol to boost the collagen-boosting effects of your regimen.
Two other active ingredients to look out for? Defensins, which work by stimulating the skin’s stem cells to create new skin cells, and HX-1, a patented molecule that protects the skin’s stem cells from the chronic inflammation (i.e. inflammation) that fuels aging.
Bioeffect EGF Serum, $160
6. Beauty Tools:
Contouring facial massage tools (i.e., gua sha, rollers) and “lifting” beauty tools like micro-current and nano-current devices are both calming and anti-aging. These practices also stimulate the lymph fluid in the face and promote bodily detoxification, while sculpting facial contours, relaxing tense facial muscles, and aiding the absorption of your anti-aging skin care products into the skin. Micro-current devices in particular impart impressive results that can lessen sagging, crinkles, and crow’s feet.
“I believe that there are benefits to these meditative and relaxing self-care rituals for our stress levels,” King says. The stress hormone cortisol has an adverse effect on the skin — cuing the breakdown of collagen and elastin, and even resulting in breakouts. “The cool temperatures of the stones may also have soothing and mild anti-inflammatory effects, and when used properly, the gua sha tool may accomplish a lymphatic drainage massage that can decrease facial puffiness for up to 24 hours.”
ZIIP Nano Current Device, $495
7. LED Therapy and Infrared Devices:
“Some experts believe that red light acts on fibroblast cells in the skin which play a role in collagen production,” King says. “In theory, red light could help reverse some signs related to photoaging in the skin.” Studies indicate that specific wavelengths of light relay the anti-aging and healing effects we seek (i.e., red 633nm and near-infrared 830nm) so it is important to shop from a brand that is FDA-cleared or makes its research explicit. The technology was originally developed by NASA and high-quality devices can be fairly pricey. If you do choose to invest in an LED device, opt for one that includes Near-Infrared Light (NIR) bulbs to promote circulation, reduce inflammation, and help with skin healing.
SolaWave Wand, $125
Déesse Pro Mask Next Generation , $1,900
[alt: if Déesse is too expensive, use Omnilux or LightSalon]
8. Beauty From Within (i.e., Supplements):
Beauty supplements will continue to trend, but King emphasizes that we absorb our nutrients most optimally from food. Still, when it comes to ingestible collagen, she shares that results of a 2019 review of controlled trials using oral collagen supplements were “promising” regarding skin aging as it relates to skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. Vegan collagen options exist for plant-based eaters, and some formulas incorporate stress-reducing adaptogens like ashwagandha, or the focusing-aid Rhodiola, making multi-functional, beautifying supplements that can be added to your coffee, smoothies, or certain foods quite popular.
Ingestible antioxidants are also making appearances in skincare supplements, which aid with cellular repair as well as cellular aging, according to the free radical model of aging. Liposomal glutathione and N-Acetyl Cysteine are two supplements to note that help fends off free radical damage internally, with the potential to show outwardly.
Copina Co. Cacao Calm Beauty , $29.90
9. Anti-Inflammatory Active Ingredients for Maskne:
Beauty consumers of all ages are suddenly contending with “maskne” — irritation and breakouts brought on by wearing face masks. But for those with anti-aging skincare objectives, we are increasingly seeing a push away from aggressive, sensitizing active ingredients in favor of those that can quell breakouts sans inflammation — thereby avoiding a cause of skin aging. For this reason, active ingredients such as salicylic acid, hypochlorous acid, and colloidal silver are growing in prominence for aging skin that is suddenly breaking out.
“Hypochlorous acid has antimicrobial properties and can promote skin healing,” King says. HOCl, which naturally occurs in our bodies, has become a superstar ingredient for treating mask-induced acne, or maskne. Beloved for its anti-inflammatory and anti-acne effects, it is fantastic for achieving results gently, without causing irritation or accelerating aging. The ingredient became one of 2020’s buzziest actives, and since we will all continue wearing masks into 2021, we don’t anticipate its popularity slowing down anytime soon.
10. Neck Creams:
Neck creams are becoming popular this year as derms report increasing patient concerns over elasticity and firmness on the skin of the neck. Whether this is due to actual tech-neck — lines and creasing from repeatedly checking our tech devices — or they are being used to prevent sagging, neck creams have literally been selling out. As such, we expect to see many more of them emerge in the coming year.
SkinOwl Neck , $68
DefenAge Neck Cream , $127
11. Eye-Specific Treatments:
Even when we wear face masks, our eyes remain visible — hence the emphasis on eye patches, creams, and devices that target thinning skin of the eye area that is prone to creasing and wrinkles. Micro-current remains one of our favorite treatments for minimizing crow’s feet, while the red light is believed to stimulate collagen production of the region. While active ingredients like ceramides, peptides, and retinol can help prevent and treat creases, you can also look to plumping hyaluronic acid to help fill emerging lines.